“Interreg Volunteer Youth” of the European Wilderness Society are young volunteers involved in European projects enhancing territorial cooperation and are organising this great EU Nature Quiz on the Cohesion policy as part of the event Bringing Europe Closer To Nature : Take the quiz, participate in the Chit-Chat and enter the raffle for a great 2021 Wilderness Calendar.
Christmas cohesion nature chit-chat
Join us at 14:00 (CET) on the 17th of December for an online Christmas-themed cookie-cohesion-and-Chit-Chat session. Use your knowledge gained from the quiz below and join the fun discussion on how nature is protected in Europe. In addition, you will hear from IVY volunteers, past and present, on their experiences regarding the EU’s Cohesion Policy. Access the chit-chat here!
EU Nature Christmas Quiz and enter the Calendar Raffle
Test your knowledge of the EU and its role in protecting Europe’s nature. Read the explainer below beforehand to give yourself the best chance in the quiz. You could be in with a chance to receive a unique and large 2021 European Wilderness calendar.
What represents the largest single source of EU funding for environmental projects?
Correct answer: Cohesion Policy Funding
What are all Cohesion Policy funded projects required to do?
Correct answer: Promote environmental sustainability
What are the focuses of Cohesion Policy?
Please select 5 correct answers
Correct answers: Effective management of Natura 2000 sites, promotion of natural heritage, research and innovation, ecosystem and nature-based solutions, and sustainable development
True or False: 80% of the EU's biodiversity is found on continental Europe
Correct answer: False - despite being dwarfed by the rest of the EU in size, 80% of the EU's biodiversity is found on Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte, Reunion Island, and Saint-Martin (France), Canary Islands (Spain), the Azores and Madeira (Portugal).
How many transnational cooperation programmes have been invested in during the 2014-2020 Interreg programme period?
Correct answer: Over 100
As we all know, Santa has a home in Lapland. In addition to being where Santa Claus lives, how many Natura 2000 sites was southwest Lapland home to in 2012?
Correct answer: 32
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Explainer: EU Cohesion Policy and nature
The EU is full of vast and wonderful areas of nature. However the European Environment Agency’s latest ‘State of nature in the EU’ report highlights the declining quality of biodiversity in Europe. Above all, this alarming news means that action needs to be taken across the EU to protect our precious nature.
Support for nature in Europe
One of the main sources of environmental projects in the EU is Cohesion Policy funding. The Cohesion Policy is an EU policy that aims to promote transnational cooperation within the EU and its near neighbours. Therefore, one of its many aims is awareness raising with regards to the positive benefits of cross-border collaboration. In addition, all Cohesion Policy funded projects have to have a basis in environmental sustainability. In order to achieve this, cohesion policy involves the effective management of Natura 2000 sites, promotion of natural heritage, research and innovation, ecosystem and nature-based solutions, and sustainable development.
A key Cohesion Policy mechanism used to help promote nature conservation across the EU is European Territorial Cooperation (Interreg). Interreg began in 1990 and currently consists of three forms of cooperation programmes: cross-border, transnational, and interregional. These projects are all co-financed by the EU and cover areas all across Europe, including the EU’s neighbouring countries. In the current Interreg V programme, the scheme has funded over 100 transnational cooperation programmes.
Many Interreg projects support the conservation of biodiversity in the EU. For example, Interreg Centralparks focuses on improving the capacities of Carpathian protected areas to enhance biodiversity and local socio-economic development. In addition, Interreg BEECH POWER focuses on improving the management quality and effectiveness of component parts in the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe”. The European Wilderness Society is a project partner in both of these Interreg projects, thus cooperating with project partners from all across Central Europe.
Benefits of cohesion in nature conservation
Nature knows no borders and the Cohesion Policy recognises this notion. For instance, the Alps is one contiguous biogeographical region but politically and administratively it is not. However, EU funding has made it possible for cooperation in this region. The LIFEstockProtect project, which started this year, involves partners and communities from all across the German-speaking Alpine region. This project involves farmers’ organisations, NGOs, universities, public bodies and museums from Italy, Germany and Austria. Together, they are all cooperating to improve the protection of livestock against depredation in the German-speaking Alpine region. By reinforcing the livestock industry in this region, the project helps promote traditional methods of land-use like shepherding, thus helping maintain the biodiversity of high Alpine pastures.
Role model for cross-border nature conservation
Both Interreg and LIFE projects have focuses on Natura 2000, a protected area network based on the EU’s Birds and Habitats Directives. 18% of EU land belongs to it, making it the largest network of protected areas in the world. While the Birds Directive protects all wild species of birds in the EU, the Habitats Directive protects ‘rare, threatened or endemic animal and plant species’, and around ‘200 rare and characteristic habitats’ in their own right. This covers many habitats, from marine wetlands to Alpine meadows. In total, there are over 27 000 Natura 2000 sites and Member States reassess the status of these areas and their protected species every 6 years.
Natura 2000 sites can also be found in areas a little further afield. The majority of the EU’s biodiversity is found in the EU’s nine outermost regions – Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte, Reunion Island, and Saint-Martin (France), Canary Islands (Spain), the Azores and Madeira (Portugal). These areas are also part of the transnational Interreg programmes, such as Interreg Carribean, Interreg Madeira – Açores – Canarias, and Interreg Atlantic Area, working with non-EU cooperation partners and EU partners alike.
In general, Natura 2000 sites helps protect vital ecosystem services. A few of these vital services include drinking water provision, flood protection, temperature regulation, and food provision. Cohesion Policy supports these ecosystem services, not only in the the EU’s outermost areas which are heavily dependent on sectors reliant on the ecosystem such as eco-tourism, fishing and agriculture, but across the rest of the EU too.
How to get involved as an Interreg Volunteer Youth (IVY)
If you want to support nature in the EU, there are many options to do so. If you are an EU citizen and aged between 18-30 years, you can help support Interreg projects. You can do this by applying to the European Wilderness Society to be an Interreg Volunteer Youth (IVY) and help with project implementation. Furthermore, you can also join the IVY initiative as an Interreg Reporter, which would involve supporting the Interreg Managing Authorities and/or the Interreg Joint Secretariats in their dissemination activities.
Moreover, other Cohesion Policy co-funded programmes offer young people opportunities to participate in nature conservation. Those between the ages of 16-27 years can take part in the Voluntary Ecological Year (Freiwilliges Ökologisches Jahr) in Germany.
Interreg Volunteer Youth and the EU support this Citizens’ Engagement Activity: Bringing Europe Closer To Nature